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[FREE RELEASE] MYbloXX for iOS - The first crowdsourced AUTO-UPDATING "xBlocker" | Block ads, revokes, trackers, miners & more!
#PLEASE READ THE FAQ SECTION PRIOR TO ASKING QUESTIONS!submitted by MYXXdev to jailbreak
ALL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN ASKED ARE ALREADY COVERED IN THE FAQ... I'M FINDING MYSELF ANSWERING THE SAME QUESTIONS OVER AND OVER AGAIN - THANKS :)
Introducing MYbloXX for iOS
A crowdsourced AUTO-UPDATING "xBlocker" for iOS!
• BLOCKS ADS | REVOKES | TRACKERS | MINERS & MORE •
Compatibility: iOS 4 - 14*
Official Telegram Support Group
Telegram: MYXXdev | Twitter: MYXXdev
After many months of closed beta testing, MYbloXX for iOS is now officially available to the general public! You may have seen it mentioned here and there on jailbreak but official release was delayed due to my Dad's on-going battle with Coronavirus. Apologies for the delay but today is the day!
What makes MYbloXX for iOS better than the alternatives?
• BETTER BATTERY LIFE
• FASTER BROWSING
• INTEGRATED POP-UP/REDIRECT BLOCKER
• NO FILESYSTEM MODIFICATIONS
The problem with alternate ad-blocking tweaks is that they rely on hosts file modifications to block ads... Not only is this static, requiring constant manual additions to the file and pushes of package updates (rarely done) but it also takes a toll on your download/upload speed... The more rules in the hosts file, the longer it takes to render pages. This method also requires additional tweaks (LetMeBlock and mDNSrestart) to allow mDNSresponder’s use of the hosts file. This is also a strain on system daemons which causes a significant amount of battery drain, especially if mDNSresponder goes haywire, which it’s known to do.
That’s where MYbloXX for iOS comes in!
Security is a top priority for everybody... MYbloXX for iOS is no different. This uses absolutely no third-party servers to re-route your traffic, unlike ffapple and other third-party DNS/Ad blocking App Store apps. They claim to not do so but how do we REALLY know that? MYbloXX for iOS is different: All traffic is routed DIRECT...
The use of wildcards means a vast majority of entries within the hosts file can be removed to ensure a fast, efficient ad-blocking method.
MYbloXX for iOS uses a powerful Apple stock feature that is usually only available to those with "supervised" devices. It also allows for on-the-fly updates to quickly add new ad-servers and works on all versions of iOS, all carriers and ISP’s (IPv4 and IPv6 respectively...
So... Just how effective is MYbloXX for iOS and how does it stack up against the competition?
It was put to the test against 2 other popular ad-blocking tweaks (BlockYouX & Mega UHB) using adblock-tester.com
The numbers speak for themselves! All 3 tests were conducted using the following settings:
Contextual Advertising: ON
- Google AdSense: ON
Analytics Tools: ON
- Google Analytics: ON
- Hotjar: ON
Banner Advertising: ON
- Flash banners: ON
- Empty Block button SELECTED (if not shown)
- Gif image: OFF (explanation below)
- Static image: OFF (explanation below)
Error monitoring: ON
- Sentry: ON
- Bugsnag: ON
Final scores (in order);
MYbloXX for iOS: 94/100
Mega UHB: 81/100
Gif image and static image tests were turned off because I’ve decided not to attempt to block these... Why? Although possible, it’s highly likely it would have an adverse effect, potentially blocking legitimate GIF’s (now that they’re hugely popular on social media) and small images. This ad technique is pretty antiquated at this point either way and most do not do this anymore.
MYbloXX for iOS aims to block as many ads as possible out of the box using a technique that has not been used in any other ad-blocking tweaks until now. With new ad servers being created on a daily basis, on rare occasions, it’s possible you’ll come across an ad in an app/on a website.
If this happens, please use the MYbloXX app to submit a report or reach out via Telegram: MYXXdev Support Group. The more that use this feature, the better!
Ad-servers that are added to MYbloXX for iOS will be updated AUTOMATICALLY on your device providing up to the minute protection from ads, revokes, trackers, miners and all other malicious content/threats.
• Works for WiFi and data (5G/LTE/4G/3G) connections.
• Does not rely on hosts/other tweaks to work.
• Works in stock AND jailbroken mode.
• Works alongside VPN servers/apps.
• Blocks all language ad-servers.
• Works for all versions of iOS.
• No filesystem modifications.
• Blocks Facebook video ads.
• Blocks pop-ups/Redirects.
• Blocks user stats scripts.
• Blocks app revocations.
• IPv4/IPv6 compatibility.
• Blocks in-game ads.
• Blocks tweak ads.
• No battery drain.
JAILBROKEN USERS: This package will SPOOF your devices “isSupervised” status allowing easy installation. Upon removal of this package, your device will return to its true unsupervised state.
STOCK USERS: MYbloXX for iOS requires you (legitimately) supervise/manage your device using Apple Configurator 2 (Mac only) prior to installation... THIS REQUIRES RESTORING YOUR DEVICE in order to configure/supervise so please ensure you BACKUP YOUR DEVICE! HOW TO SUPERVISE WITH APPLE CONFIGURATOR 2
A special thanks to Charlie Todd, Droom0ne, John Coates, LakesideMiners, Usman, yoyo and all beta testers for their contributions!
“MYBloXX is the most robust ad blocker I've used. It works very well every where on the device. Very responsive developer with quick updates. And it’s all free. I definitely recommend this blocker.”
“I've been using MYbloXX since the initial beta release and I can definitely be the one to say that it’s the best ad blocker to this day. It’s my go-to ad blocker now.”
“Wow! I never knew this existed. This is amazing!”
“Very nice. Just made the jump from BlockYouX, working great!”
“Use MYBloXX! Best ad blocker by far.”
“MYbloXX is the best I’ve found!”
“Just tried it, it’s brutal.”
“I just switched to MYBloXX and it’s better than the rest.”
“The MYbloXX dev is very responsive; he fixed an issue I had with one of my apps blocking something it shouldn't have in under an hour!”
“Have been using MYbloXX since day 1 of beta release... After using all other ad blockers, I can definitely say that MYbloXX is on another level! None of the other ad blockers come close. The dev is very responsive, always available to sort out any issues.”
“MYbloXX is so good that it annoys me every time I have to use somebody elses device that's full of ads.”
“Since my ISP removed the option to change DNS, I wasn’t able to use AdGuard DNS anymore. MYXXdev released the first beta which went so smooth and buttery that I liked it a lot and became a loyal user. It met my needs, it's battery efficient, bug free, very responsive, seamless updates, blocks popups and even works in a non-jailbroken state. This really is a must have tweak!”
“I’ve been a beta tester for MYbloXX and it’s been strong from the get-go! The dev really does commit to his tweak and pushes daily updates so we can get the best experience possible. He also takes the time to listen and resolve any issues we face regarding his tweak extremely quickly! Would recommend to anyone that’s used Mega UHB and wants better performance!”
“One of best ad blockers ever!”
“Blocks everything for me!”
- Why does my device say "This iDevice is supervised and managed"?
At no point is your device actually TRULY supervised. The message in Settings can cause alarm (and so it should under legitimate circumstances) but MYbloXX for iOS doesn’t actually supervise (or “manage”) your device.
MYbloXX for iOS uses a hidden stock Apple feature (usually only available to devices that are supervised under Mobile Device Management (MDM)) in order to block ads, revokes, miners etc. Under normal circumstances, this would require a person to manually supervise their device with Apple Configurator 2. This not only requires a Mac but also requires restoring your device.
The beauty of being jailbroken, we can SPOOF this setting, fooling iOS into BELIEVING it’s in a “supervised” state. Obtaining “spoofed supervised” status was simple: Changing one key string (“isSupervised”) in CloudConfigurationDetails.plist from “false” to “true”.
You can try this for yourself in Filza:
After a respring, you’ll see that the “warning” message is now in Settings.
Again, at no point is your device TRULY supervised... This would require YOU physically restoring your device in your possession. MYbloXX simply tricks iOS into thinking it is to allow the installation (this is also why MYbloXX for iOS is available for stock users as they have the option to legitimately supervise their device to use it).
- Can I remove the supervised message in Settings?
YES! AFTER you've installed the MYbloXX for iOS profile, please install isSupervisedBeGone from the MYXXdev Repository to remove the message.
You can immediately uninstall the isSupervisedBeGone package after install - This will not make the warning message re-appear.
NOTE: THIS REVERTS SUPERVISION SPOOFING ENTIRELY. If, for whatever reason, you remove the MYbloXX for iOS profile, you will need to reinstall the MYbloXX for iOS package to re-spoof and reinstall the profile.
I recommend keeping a spoofed status so you can remove/re-install the MYbloXX for iOS profile with ease but this package is available for those that wish to remove it.
- Does this block ads systemwide or just Safari?
SYSTEMWIDE! MYbloXX for iOS blocks ads, revokes, trackers, miners and more in all browsers, games, tweaks and apps that use external/dedicated ad servers!
- Does MYbloXX for iOS work in stock mode?
YES! MYbloXX for iOS xBlocking technology works in both jailbroken AND stock mode!
- How often is MYbloXX for iOS updated?
MYbloXX for iOS is updated by hand by yours truly as reports come in/as I find ad-servers... Updates are typically more than once per day!
- How do I get the updates?
No enduser interaction is required! Your device will automatically call out and receive the latest PAC rules from the MYXXdev GitHub repository. This will only occur when you use something that requires an active internet connection so there's no fear of overnight/standby battery drain. Sit back, relax and enjoy up to the minute protection!
- Will I have to update anything in Cydia?
This package will rarely receive updates... Only if features are added/changed that require a full package update. Everything else is handled by the PAC automatically.
- Why does the MYbloXX app crash on launch/stay on a black screen?
If the MYbloXX app sits at a black screen after launch, it's likely you have OpenURLPrompt (or similar) installed that's blocking the MYbloXX app from redirecting to/opening Safari. This is required in order to install a profile (an Apple set restriction). If the app crashes to the SpringBoard immediately upon launch, you may be using an older version of iOS that isn't officially supported (but does work). The app is basically a shortcut to THIS PAGE. You can use this link to continue installation and file reports.
- Does this block YouTube ads?
NO! Some apps/services self-host their ads... YouTube being one of those services. This requires patching out the ads in the app directly with a separate tweak. Why? The ads are hosted on the same servers as the content itself - Blocking the ad-server would block the service entirely... Very smart on their behalf but annoying for us!
Services that use this ad-hosting technique:
I recommend using Haoict's family of ad-blocking patches/tweaks alongside MYbloXX for iOS for these particular apps.
Snapchat - They have recently started moving their ads from snapads.com to the same servers that host stories and Snaps. MYbloXX for iOS will still block the majority of ads until they fully transition but it's possible you'll see a small percentage of them. This requires a patch to remove them completely but it's unlikely that will happen due to their stance on tweaks injecting into their app.
YouTube - There are multiple tweaks available to block YouTube ads. I recommend YouTopia by sinfool... Lightweight and FREE.
- Does this block Cercube/Watusi banner ads?
NO! MYbloXX for iOS blocks ads that are hosted on dedicated/external servers. Removing these types of hard-coded self-promotional banners is considered piracy and will NOT be removed by MYbloXX for iOS. Some tweaks use this method to encourage purchasing a license... Please support the developers!
- How do I fully remove MYbloXX for iOS?
You can remove this profile/package at any time using your choice of package manager (Cydia etc.) as well as/or navigating to Settings - General - Profiles & Device Management - MYbloXX for iOS.
- MYbloXX for iOS blocks app revokes?
YES! MYbloXX for iOS blocks apps revokes meaning even if a certificate is revoked for an app you have downloaded from a third-party store, it will continue to open and remain VERIFIED even in stock mode!
NOTE: This will only work if the CERTIFICATE OWNER revokes the certificate. If this happens, it will continue to open and last until the expiration date of the certificate. HOWEVER, If APPLE remove the developer account attached to the certificate entirely, the application will unverify and crash on launch.
- Can I delete the MYbloXX app?
The MYbloXX app is included in installation for reporting purposes (and initial installation). Please use this to report any ads or issues you have. If you must, you can hide the icon with Lynx, Springtomize, HideYouApps etc.
- Can I uninstall the MYbloXX for iOS package after installing the profile?
You'll lose the integrated pop-up/redirect blocker (TabBlocker) that's included in the package as well as the ease of reporting/profile re-installation. I'd recommend hiding the app icon opposed to complete removal.
- How can I support your work?
Donations are not required but definitely appreciated. It takes a lot of work to ensure MYbloXX for iOS is efficient and up to date. Although everything updates for you as an enduser automatically, it's still very much so manual research and data entry on my end. If you wish to donate to support continued development for years to come, a PayPal donation page is setup HERE. Thank you in advance for your generosity. MYbloXX for iOS relies solely on donations since it cannot be monetized by ads for obvious reasons ;)
- What is MYXX FM?
MYXX FM is another of my projects that I own/operate... I included MYXX FM branding simply for exposure and for those that enjoy music that wish to support another of my hobbies... Again, commercial/ad free so non-monetized but it's something I enjoy doing.
• *TabBlocker update for iOS 14.
• Activator action to easily enable/disable.
Changelogs are available on the Telegram support group as well as the tweaks depiction page.
Thank you and please enjoy!
Somebody tried to kill me when I was young. A monster saved my life. [Part 2] [FINAL]
Then, she turned on her heel and left my room, closing the door behind her.
I lay there, sat-up in bed, my body too awash with adrenaline to even dream of sleeping or thinking or doing anything. I just waited, wired and awake.
I waited for her to come back and kill me.
She never did.
The sun rose, and with it came the sound of cars in the street and dogs barking in their yards. I nervously stepped out of bed. My feet were cold against the hardwood, but I barely noticed. All I could think about was my mother, and how she would react this morning. Usually she was full of smiles and affection after she’d slept off the booze, but after last night I wasn’t so sure. Something seemed to have changed in her.
When I made my way downstairs for breakfast, she wasn’t there. Normally she was eating her porridge and ready to grab my cereal of choice from the cupboard. This time it was just me. The house felt empty. Lonely.
I clambered onto the countertop and opened the cupboard, pulling out a box of Frosted Flakes. I did my best to remember what Mr Gilad had told me the day before. It doesn’t matter what my parents think of me, I thought to myself. I need to forge my own path and listen to my heart. I have to do what I think is right, and not let anybody, my parents or otherwise, get in the way of that.
I thought about his words over my bowl of cereal. Even if my dad didn’t love me, and even if my mom wished I’d never been born, I could still find my own path in life.
As I ate, I monitored the digital clock sitting on our kitchen counter. It was a habit I picked up because my mom was always very strict about ushering me into the car by 7:15am, so she could drop me off in time to get to work.
Right now it read 7:45am. She was nowhere in sight.
A minute later I heard the familiar creak of footsteps on the stairs, and my mood picked up. Even after everything that had happened last night, my mom hadn’t hurt me, and I still had my trivia competition with Mr Gilad and Oscar to look forward to. Maybe mom realized she loved me too much to hurt me.
The creaking stopped as the footsteps reached the landing, and my dad bustled around the corner, adjusting his tie. He paused, seeing me at the kitchen table. “What are you doing here?”
“Waiting for mom,” I said quietly.
“Excuse me?” he said, his voice rising.
I swallowed. My father always had a way of making me feel smaller than I already was. “Waiting for mom, dad.”
He stared at me with something between irritation and disbelief. “Your mom’s not home.”
“I said she’s not home. Do you need a fucking hearing aid now too?”
I looked down, eating another spoonful of Frosted Flakes. Where did she go? I wondered. She was here last night.
My eyes drifted to the digital display. The clock now read 7:50am. Class was starting in ten minutes, and so was my trivia competition. It took at least ten minutes to drive to school.
“Dad?” I asked.
“Have you seen my briefcase?” he said, impatiently.
“Fuck!” he snapped. “That stupid bitch probably took it!” He adjusted his collar and reached for the coffee pot, before realizing it was empty and then flung it across the room, where it shattered on the wall. “Everything I do!” he screamed. “Taken for granted!”
Mr Gilad’s words echoed in my head. To believe in myself. To trust in my instincts. To do what I felt I needed to. I cleared my throat. “Can you drive me to school, I have a trivia compet--”
“Do I look like your mother?” he said incredulously. I stared at him, feeling tears welling in my eyes. Eventually, I shook my head.
“I have a real job,” he said, grabbing his jacket from the wall and opening the front door. “I don’t have time to play at being a parent.” He muttered something about ingrates, and then disappeared through the doorway, shutting the door behind him.
I sat at the table for a few more minutes, too stunned to do anything. My mom was gone. My dad was gone. It was just me in the house now. My family didn’t care about me. Nobody gave a damn.
No, that wasn’t true.
Oscar cared. Mr Gilad cared.
I snatched my jacket from the coat rack beside the door and exited after my father. I used the key we hid under the rock in our garden to lock the house behind me, and I started jogging toward the school. Usually, when I walked home with Oscar it’d take us just over an hour. Unfortunately for me though, Hillcrest school lived up to its namesake.
My school sat perched atop a large hill, overlooking the rest of Plumberry township. At the top, it was really a spectacular view. To the north you could see most of the local streets, all the way up to the city hall, downtown. To the south, you could see far down the country road, all the way out to Lake Tyler and Gefferson forest beyond.
Still, it was uphill. Which meant it would be a longer walk to than from. I was determined though. Mr Gilad’s words recited themselves in my mind like a mantra, pushing me ever forward.
I kept my eye on the watch on my wrist, figuring if I could get there before 8:30, I’d be in the clear. In both third grade classes, we did a sharing period from 8 till 8:30, where we talked about our day or new things we found interesting.
My sneakers pounded along the sidewalk, my backpack bouncing up and down with my binder, pencils and markers. I made good time getting to the bottom of the hill, and at the distant top I could see the gates that marked the entrance to Hillcrest elementary.
I started my ascent.
It was slow going. As I went, I kept track of the watch on my wrist. 8:20am. I had ten minutes to reach the top, and I was barely a quarter of the way there. My breath was coming in big heaves and my legs, tired from jogging for so long, burned with soreness. I felt lightheaded and wobbly -- out of breath.
I continued to climb, more slowly now. I didn’t have a water bottle, and I was beginning to feel incredibly thirsty, but I knew I needed to get to the top before the trivia competition started.
Somehow, even after everything that had happened with my mom and dad, I felt like if I could just win that competition, then everything would be alright. My mom would come home, and she’d realize how smart I was and decide that drinking wasn’t worth it, and my dad would be so proud of me that he’d start taking an interest in my studies.
My eyes drifted back to the watch on my wrist, and my heart fell. 8:45am. How had I been walking up the hill for so long already? I stopped, catching my breath and realizing none of it mattered anymore.
I was way too late for trivia, and I was probably going to end up in detention besides that. There wasn’t any point in rushing now.
My day was already ruined.
I took the rest of the hill at a slower walk, and my legs thanked me for it. I hated my mom for leaving last night, and I hated my dad for not driving me to school. I hated both of them for making me miss out on trivia, and disappoint the one adult who seemed to care about me: Mr Gilad.
Tears tugged at the corners of my eyes as I considered how ashamed of me he probably was. He went through all the trouble of securing me permission to attend his class this morning, and I gave him my word I’d be there. Then I didn’t show up at all, and my dad didn’t so much as call the school and let them know I’d be late.
He probably thought I was just as much of a lost cause as my parents by now.
“There he is!” a shrill voice shrieked. “Oh my god, he’s here!”
I looked up as Mrs Applefig came stampeding toward me, her lined face filled with concern and her tone thick with relief. “Walter, are you okay?” she wrapped me into a tight hug. “Thank goodness. Thank goodness.”
I’d been so absorbed in my own thoughts that I hadn’t even noticed I’d crested the hill and come up in front of my school. Mrs Applefig smothered me with her hug, and all I could see was the blue fabric of her blouse. “I’m fine, Mrs Applefig,” I lied. “I’m sorry for being late.”
“It’s okay, sweetheart. It’s okay,” she said, pressing her face to mine. I felt something wet on her cheek.
“Gloria, is that Walter Thimby?” a man bellowed, and I recognized it as Principal Patel.
She wheeled around, nodding fiercely. “It is, Uday! It is!”
Freed from Mrs Applefig’s all-encompassing blouse, I became acutely aware of something very strange: my entire school was staring at me.
“Bring him over here,” Principal Patel called out. “Everybody triple check your students and make sure everybody’s accounted for!”
Mrs Applefig ushered me into a line with the rest of my classmates, and I plunked down on the grass beside Jessie Wilson, a blonde kid who held the record for most school suspensions in third grade. He leaned over and whispered into my ear.
“Whew,” he said. “Gotta say man, for a while there you had us worried.”
“Had you worried?” I said, feeling too depressed to chitchat.
“Yeah,” he said. He thumbed over his shoulder, back toward the school behind us. “We thought you were still inside.”
Still inside? I turned around, and gazed at the school with narrowed eyes. Beyond the belltower in the center, I saw a dark cloud billowing into the sky.
“The south wing caught fire early this morning,” Jessie explained. “We cleared out all the classrooms, but I guess we’re still missing some students. You were one of them.”
I swallowed. The smoke was pitch black, and heavy. It looked like it was growing thicker.
“Firefighters are on the other side,” Jessie continued. “They’ve been fighting the blaze for twenty minutes now, but it keeps getting bigger. They’re calling in fire trucks from the next town over.”
I stared, transfixed at the pillar of shadow rising from the school. Beneath it, faint in the brightness of the morning sun, I spotted the flicker of flames.
The school was burning.
Just then, a cacophony of sirens sounded in the distance. A handful of seconds later, and two fire trucks roared over the crest of the hill, through the school gates, and swung around the parking lot toward the south side. I gazed after them in awe. I’d never seen fire trucks in action before.
“Mister Thimbly,” Principal Patel said firmly. I blinked, returning my attention to the front of me. He crouched down, meeting me at eye level. “I need to know if you were with Mr Gilad’s class this morning.”
“Mr Gilad’s class?” I said, confused. “No, I was late. I was supposed to be but--”
“Jesus,” he muttered, shaking his head and standing up. “He wasn’t!” he shouted to somebody I didn’t recognize. They were in a suit and on a cellphone, and their lips were moving fast.
“That’s not good,” Jessie said beside me.
“What’s going on?” I asked, fear beginning to take seat in my chest.
“We’re missing twenty two kids still, and one teacher.”
I swallowed, a piece of me already knowing the answer to the question I was about to ask. “Who?”
“Mr Gilad,” Jessie said darkly. “Nobody knows where he is, or his class.”
“They’re two doors down from us,” I argued. “How can they not know where he is?”
Mrs Applefig appeared in front of us, her finger pursed to her lips. “Shh!” she hissed. “It’s important that we’re all quiet. This is a very serious situation and it’s crucial that Principal Patel is able to hear what’s going on.”
Jessie and I closed our mouths, nodding in acknowledgement. As soon as Mrs Applefig shuffled out of earshot though, he leaned over and resumed his whispering.
“That’s the thing, they cleared the entire school. The fire alarm went off as soon as the smoke detector caught whiff, and Patel himself made sure to double check every classroom to make sure they were clear. All of them were empty.”
I shook my head. “That doesn’t make any sense,” I said, defiance leaking into my voice. Oscar was in that class, there was no way Patel would miss Oscar. He was the loudest kid I’d ever met. “They had to have been there. We were doing a trivia competition today.”
Jessie shrugged. “Don’t know what to tell you man, that’s just what I’ve heard.”
My mind raced. Where could they be? Mr Gilad had promised me there would be a trivia competition today. He hadn’t told me to meet the class anywhere special. They had to be here.
My eyes scanned the crowd of assembled students. Each class was separated into small ranks, with their teachers standing out front. I went over every single one of them twice, then once again to be certain. No Oscar. No Mr Gilad.
Once again I felt my emotions getting the better of me. Tears began welling in the corners of my eyes, but I took a deep breath. Maybe they had met up at the school, and then gone for a walk? I looked up at the near cloudless sky, and the warm sun. It was an uncharacteristically nice day for November. Maybe Mr Gilad took them outside for the trivia competition, so that they could enjoy the weather?
A crash sounded behind me, and myself, and every other students’ heads turned in near unison. I watched, transfixed in horror as the bell tower, now almost entirely enshrouded in thick black smoke, sagged, and then with a loud groan fell backwards, onto the blazing south wing. The resultant collision was deafening. The roof of the school caved in instantly, and in its wake exploded an inferno of fire and smoke.
Screams erupted from the students.
My jaw dropped. I was watching my school, the one place I truly felt at home, be destroyed in front of my very eyes. It felt surreal. Like I was dreaming, and couldn't wake up.
It was Mrs Applefig’s crying that brought me back to earth. She had a hand covering her mouth, and she kept muttering the words “Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.”
A moment later a school bus arrived, and all of us whose parents hadn’t picked us up yet were loaded into it. I remember resisting at first, telling Mrs Applefig that I needed to wait for Oscar, but she kept crying and telling me I had to get onboard. “Please,” she said. “Please, Walter.”
I relented, and fifteen minutes later the bus dropped me off at home. I used the key in the garden to get back inside, and when I did, I called out for my mom. She didn’t answer, so I went into the kitchen and picked up my phone, calling Oscar’s house. Maybe he was home sick.
The ringer rang once, twice, three times and then a voice picked up. “Hello?” it said breathlessly. “Sarah? Matthew? Is Oscar at your house with Walter? Please we need to--”
“No,” I said. “This is Walter. Oscar’s not here.”
The line went quiet on the other end.
“Is he not at home?” I asked.
“No,” said his mother’s voice, though it was broken, and filled with sadness. I heard her stifle a sob. “I’m sorry, Walter. I have to go.”
“Okay, Miss Cortez.”
The line went dead, and I hung up the phone. I looked over to the clock. It read 10:54am. My dad wouldn’t be home for another six hours, so in the meantime I made my way to the living room and turned on the TV, hoping maybe there was something on the news.
I flicked through the channels until I spotted a newscaster in front of my school.
“-- Here in front of Hillcrest elementary, where a vicious fire has caused the bell tower to collapse upon the South Wing. The blaze has finally been out and overhauled by firefighters, and efforts to locate survivors, as well as fully assess the extent of the damage have begun.”
The woman speaking, dressed in a nice business suit, turned her attention to somebody off camera. They exchanged a few words with her microphone down and unable to pick up more than faint mumbles of sound. A moment later, she looked back at the camera and raised her microphone to her mouth.
“I’ve just received word from the fire department that several remains have been located within Hillcrest. These remains are suspected to belong to the missing third grade class, taught by Mr Heinrich Gilad.”
An emptiness stole through me. The news lady continued speaking, but her words washed over me like white noise. Several remains have been located within Hillcrest. The words haunted me, replaying over and over again in my head. It wasn’t until my father came home that I realized just how long I’d been sitting there.
“Walter?” he said, before rushing over to me. He pulled me into a tight hug. “Oh, god, Walter. I was so worried for you. I was in a meeting and I didn’t hear until twenty minutes ago, once I did I came right over--”
“It’s okay, dad,” I said, though my voice was void of emotion. It was such an odd sort of feeling. All of my life I had craved this sort of attention and affection from my father, and yet now that I was receiving it, it didn’t mean anything to me.
I felt empty inside.
My dad took me upstairs, ordered me my favorite pizza and rented the newest Harry Potter movie for me. He sat with me all night. Every so often he would ask me if I was okay, and apologize for yelling at me earlier, but I hardly registered it. My thoughts were consumed with thoughts of Oscar, and Mr Gilad.
They were gone.
The next morning school was predictably canceled. My father stayed home with me, and put on another rented movie in my room. This one was Monsters Inc. I only watched it for twenty minutes or so before I wandered downstairs. I found my dad on the couch in the living room, his back facing me, watching the news lady I’d watched yesterday.
She was in front of the scorched remains of the south wing of my school, and it looked like a windy day, because her blond hair was blowing all over the place.
“-- I'm again in front of the wreckage of Hillcrest Elementary’s South Wing, where twenty two children and one man are believed to have lost their lives early yesterday morning, in what can only be described as the greatest tragedy in Plumdale history...”
My dad reached for his mug on the coffee table and took a sip. It occurred to me that he must have taken the day off of work to stay home with me.
“...Yesterday morning a fire blazed, quickly spreading through the South Wing and eventually reaching the bell tower. An old school, built in the early 1900s, Hillcrest Elementary was built primarily of highly flammable lumber, and the bell tower was no exception. At 10:13am it fell backward, onto the South Wing, collapsing that section of the school and dooming the individuals trapped inside.”
She touched her ear, and her eyes looked sideways, as if somebody was speaking to her.
“I’m just receiving word that the investigation has determined some rather disturbing details. I… I should caution viewers at home that what I’m about to say is not for the faint of heart.”
The news lady cleared her throat, and I drew closer behind my father.
“Investigators have located two thick wooden doors in the wreckage. The deadbolts belonging to these doors were discovered in the outward, or locked position. According to blueprints, these doors lead into the basement of the school, where the Hillcrest archive was held.”
“Jesus…” I heard my father mutter, leaning forward and setting his mug back down on the table.
“The twenty two students and teacher, who we have now positively identified as one Mr Heinnrich Gilad via dental records, appear to have been locked inside the school’s basement at the time of the blaze. Details pertaining as to why are still unknown. The stunning ferocity of the blaze, according to investigators, is due to old film reels located in the school’s archive. These reels contained nitrate, a substance which burns hotter than gasoline...”
“One aspect of the tragedy that school Principal Uday Patel is wrestling with, is that he never physically cleared any of the school’s basement areas.”
The camera cuts out, and I see my principal giving an interview on the school grounds, but in a different location during a different time of day.
“I checked everywhere,” he said, adjusting his glasses and keeping his voice level. “Every classroom was personally cleared by myself, as well as a team of three other faculty members. We ensured to check all of them. I double checked them personally, and suffered severe smoke exposure in the process. Of course, in the interest of protecting my students --”
“What about the basement?” the interviewer asked from off screen, and I recognized the voice as the news lady from earlier.
Principal Patel's voice cracked as he began his reply. “I saw no need to physically check the basements. It seemed a dangerous task, given the relative size of them, and the speed at which the blaze was spreading. As I walked by the basement areas in each wing, I called down and asked if anybody was down there and needed assistance. I heard no response, and so I continued on. There simply wasn’t any time.”
The screen cut back to the news lady, and a small icon in the corner reads LIVE.
“Strangely enough, despite Principal Patel’s calls, nobody answered. Given the amount of remains located within the school’s archive, it seems as though such screams would have been loud and plentiful. One theory as to why Patel didn’t hear any of the victims, was that they had already suffered from toxin inhalation due to the nitrate film off-gassing. It's highly likely they'd already passed out --- sorry?”
The news lady brought a hand to earpiece again. Seconds ticked by in silence, and I realized somebody must be speaking to her on the other end, because her expression slowly became more and more disturbed. Finally, she cleared her throat and brought the mic to her lips.
“For those watching at home, particularly family members of the suspected deceased, your viewer discretion is advised."
Her voice trembled and she readjusted her grip on the mic. She cleared her throat.
"I can hardly believe I’m about to say this in sleepy Plumdale, but investigators have just determined that, based on observed damage to a child's hyoid bone, their throat is presumed to have been slit."
The news lady closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "According to dental records, one Oscar Cortez appears to have died prior to the start of the blaze.”
I gazed, transfixed in horror at the television screen. My father was too stunned to notice me creeping ever closer, drawn toward the scenes on the display. “It is now being posited that perhaps this young man was killed in an attempt to scare the remaining twenty-one children into silence.”
“Oh my god,” my dad muttered. He ran a hand through his mess of hair, and I can tell by his sleeves that he’s wearing his housecoat. He didn't even bother getting dressed today.
I took another step closer and the floorboard croaked. My father turned around. “Walter?” he exclaimed. “Jesus, Walter! You shouldn’t be watching this!”
He rushed around the couch, and the news lady's words became muffled against his chest as he lifted me up and carried me back upstairs.
“You need to take it easy, alright?” he said, ferrying me through the hallway. “I know you’re going through a lot right now, and I know your worthless joke of a mother abandoned us, but the two of us gotta stick together, okay? And that means you gotta trust that I know what’s best for you. Now I don’t want to see you out of your room again today, alright?”
He gently lowered me onto my bed, and hit play on the Monsters Inc movie. “You need to take some time for yourself. Don’t worry about the news. This is all just conjecture right now anyway.”
He paid me a remorseful smile and closed my bedroom door behind him. I laid there, staring at my wall and oblivious to the sounds of Sully and Mike from the movie. All I could think about was Mr Gilad’s words, playing on repeat inside of my head.
"I never felt fulfilled, because each day I felt like I was a part of a play, or an act. I felt like I was fighting tooth and nail against my instincts, and it was only making me more desperate to see them through."
Tears slipped from the corners of my eyes. Thanks to the news lady, I finally knew the answer to my trivia question.
Nitrate burned hotter than gasoline.